I was fairly adamant, when my father suggested that I go to grad school, that I was done with further education. Then again, I’m fairly adamant about most things, and I’m wrong about 50% of the time.
It takes a very big person to admit this, I hope you realize.
Still, it’s not that much of a stretch, for those who knew me as a child, to know that I would always end up here… school was always my strongest suit. I wasn’t great at sports; I wasn’t much of an artist or a musician. But I never stopped reading growing up; I could finish a book and turn back to the first page again, perfectly happy to exist in the worlds of others.
This is my desk.
The wall behind it is covered with quotes from famous authors, citations that have inspired me, mainly over the past year of study, but some from before that. It’s my way of remaining in the world of others all the time, even if I don’t have the time for the same sort of reckless wandering through fictional worlds when the real world beckons.
I kind of forgot about my wall for a moment there… but there’s something about fall and back to school*, “the smell of freshly sharpened pencils” (name that movie), and being back in a classroom with my colored pens and lined paper, hanging on my professors’ every word and taking pages upon pages of notes. I love taking notes, and I love — finally — reaching a stage in my education where everyone in the room is writing just as feverishly as I am.
It’s a familiar sort of strange, a new version of something I’ve always loved. Today, my Renaissance literature professor talked about the cyclical view of history, a time before we looked at moving forward in time as progress, and instead regarded it as simply another season. Summer becomes autumn; things fall back into place.
I’ll be honest; these are last year’s autumn’s pictures. But it seems rather appropriate, don’t you think? Fall is back; it doesn’t feel like a year since I moved back here yet, and yet I can’t put my finger back on the normal of before-Paris. It’s funny how things work out that way. I talked to the Almost British One briefly on Facebook and realized, with a start, that we haven’t seen each other since those four months we both spent in New York nearly two years ago — it’s a long time, and yet it’s not.
Maybe my brain is scrambled eggs, or maybe this all makes sense. May I distract you from the ramblings of my drunk-on-fall brain with a recipe that will make you crave it, even if fall has yet to arrive where you are?
Quickbreads are a frequent guest in my kitchen. They’re easy and just sweet enough to be a dessert, but not so much as to make you guilty for having a bite or two with your four o’clock coffee. This one uses fresh fall apples and spices reminiscent of pumpkin pie. The perfect back-to-school snack.
*Yes, my Masters program began today.
Apple Cream Cheese Bread
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or one packet vanilla sugar (for those living in France…)
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
6 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grate the apples (skin and all) into a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, cup of sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix well to combine. Without mixing, add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and pour into the prepared loaf pan.
Combine the cream cheese, sugar and egg with a fork. Pour over the top of the batter, and use a knife to swirl the two layers together.
Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue to bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Allow to cool fully before slicing.